Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Wonderful Bit Of Winter On The Reeks Today

April 11th;
We have had a beautiful week of great spring weather this past week but alas the forecast for the weekend wasn't good with chilly conditions and plenty of rain. It was therefore with some delight I saw lots of blue sky about and even some snow on the hills as I went back to Killarney to have a day out with Frank. Even though it had been a while since he had been out Frank opted to head for the "big ones" and we set off for the Reeks. They looked wonderful with a dusting of snow giving the range a wintry look. We decided to climb the north spur of Cnoc na Chuillan 958 meters. It was a bit chilly and some showers could be seen in places but it was overall a very promising picture and we were in fine fettle as we set off. We walked in as far as the outlet of Lough Callee and then climbed up into the impressive Coumeenmore. Things got considerably steeper from as we climbed up towards the ridge high to our right. As we neared the ridge the wind got up a bit but it was not too bad and allowed us to stick to the nice ridge and eventually reach the summit.
The route is just right of centre

Inspiring vistas

The north spur of Cnoc na Chuillin

Impressive back wall of Coumeenmore

Some nice scrambling to be had

Looking back down the ridge

Frank on the summit.
We were occasionally treated to ex-foliating hail showers but at the top we found a lovely sheltered spot and enjoyed a delightful lunch. The play of dark cloudscapes and stunning scenery plus a gentle fall of snow made for an enchanting interlude. From the top we could have gone left to Cruach Mhor or right to Carrauntoohil and we chose the latter. So rested and fed we turned to descend into the breeze. Ahead of us the Bridea Valley was a dark forbidding sight as another shower headed our way. It reached us after we had gone down about 100 meters and it hit with some force. The breeze became a strong wind and it carried hailstones that hit and stung. I had no option but to stand and turn my back to it but very shortly I had to squat right down as the backs of my legs were really stinging from the hail. I was actually laughing as I waited for things to improve as this was full on severe weather that was a bit intimidating but was equally exhilarating. It soon passed and we were able to continue on and shortly afterwards we were basking in glorious sunshine and enjoying stunning views once again. We continued up and over Cnoc na Toinne and then on up to the summit of Carrauntoohil. The weather behaved itself for the rest of the outing and we descended back to the car via the Heavenly Gates. It had been a varied exhilarating outing and had the odd reminder that perhaps winter isn't finished with us yet. Thanks Frank.
The view from lunch

More lunchtime views

The snow was melting fast
During the squall

Shortly after the squall stunning

A wee bit more weather on the way